Moreno Mancosu, Antonella Seddone, Giuliano Bobba, Cristina Cremonesi, Paolo Mancini, Franca Roncarolo, Guido Legnante

How Do «Easy» and «Tough» Media Shape Candidates’ Evaluation? Effects of Visibility and Tone on Voters during the Election Campaign

  • Abstract

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Keywords: daily press, election campaign, leader evaluation, media effect, TV.

Media are known to affect people’s political attitudes and behaviors. The literature has mainly tested whether media tone and visibility affect people’s attitudes toward leaders. However, only a few scholars have assessed these effects by considering the levels of attention requested by different media to understand the message. This paper investigates whether people differently exposed to political communication on television or press might change their evaluations of leaders. Our dataset combines coverage and individual data collected during the 2018 Italian national elections campaign. Findings show that the effect of the press tone is stronger in affecting people’s attitudes toward leaders than that of TV. We also find that visibility has a role only in interaction with tone, namely, the more a positive/negative portrait of a leader is repeated, the stronger the effect. This study suggests that even in information flows where images are prominent, the written word still plays a crucial role in shaping citizens’ attitudes.

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